By The Foodist
Sometimes the conversations that echo the hallowed halls of the CIA aren’t always the most positive ones. Sometimes they hiss of disgust and mistrust. But a lot of times they are of great importance and should be brought into a greater spectrum of discussion.
This afternoon at lunch I heard two B Blockers (B block is the first block you take upon arriving at the CIA. It’s an intro and basics to get you used to the campus) talking about a topic I myself have discussed and debated a million times over. I like to think I should be as tired of talking about it as I am talking about what constitutes "Food Art", but for a very important reason I am not.
Culinary School vs. School of Hard Knocks. Which is better?
It’s impossible to say I think. It depends heavily on what you want in the field. There are success stories and horror tales from both sides. You have your Bourdains, your Achatzs: the graduates of culinary schools who have staked out their place in the history books of modern food. Then you have your pan slinging, cursing, tough as nails cooks who have worked themselves to the bone but have created remarkable cuisine and even more remarkable stories.
So standing at the crossroads, what do you choose and how do you choose it?
Neither path is really easy. Some would say Culinary School is the "child's way out", while others would say the school of hard knocks would be a "dead-end".
I really got into it on my blog and created a poll which I invite you all the vote on.
The debate I overheard raged and continued past my allowed lunch time, so I never got to hear the end of it, but I can imagine what the outcome was. Neither side agreed and neither side felt any better about the opposing stance.
But the argument got me thinking about about the whole situation. I began to wonder if the majority of culinary students were even aware of the impact that we have on the industry and on the food world in general.
I also wonder if the old vanguard is finally going to die out. The time of screaming old world chefs has been at its twilight for some time. But now, in the face of increasing pressure to attend culinary schools for the chance at prosperity in a kitchen I wonder if the sun is finally going to set on the tried and true, the old and firm pillar on which the industry was so slowly and uneasily built.